Does God Want You to Be Raped?

You gotta love these heartland Republicans. From a Blue state point of view, the kinds of things that Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, et al. have been saying are so eye-rollingly over the top that they seem designed precisely to keep Comedy Central and MSNBC in business.

You know what I’m talking about, right? Akin started our heads spinning when he mansplained that if a woman gets pregnant, it couldn’t have been legitimate rape—because a woman’s bodies can only wash in those little swimmers if she was hot to trot to begin with. In this week’s installment of repro rights funnies, Mourdock explained on television that he was against abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest because:

I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. ... And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

The choking-on-thin-air sounds started immediately from women all over the country, amplified by Twitter. That man did not just say that God intended for me to be raped!

No, I don’t think he did. Honestly, I think he means that God somehow intended the new life—not the rape—and that the rape, well, that was terrible, but get over it. You know, the way Sharon Angle said that women should make lemons from lemonade, and all that. Love the baby, not the sin. But understanding what he meant is very, very far from excusing his belief that women should just lie back and think of England if they’re colonized by an unexpected invader.  

As Irin Carmon writes over at Salon today, “Dear everyone asking what it is about Republican candidates and their clumsy talk about rape: This is a feature, not a bug.” Really. Mourdock, Akin, Walsh, Angle—all of them are simply saying straightforwardly what they and many other people around them believe. They're articulating the conventional wisdom in their echo chambers, without softening it down. It only sounds shocking to us left-of-center types because we're protected in our own echo chambers. They believe that if women are going to spread their legs, they deserve to get pregnant. They believe that most of what you and I would call rape today is just some slut who got angry because the dude didn’t take her out to breakfast the next morning. Here’s a recent quote I found in Jessica Valenti’s incredibly timely commentary on current attitudes toward sexual assault in The Nation, "Ending Rape Illiteracy":

As Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry said in 2008, “Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse.”

In other words, only virgins can be raped—sweetly white-gloved, white-skinned virgins, in case we’re not clear. Any woman who ever wanted sex—yes, that includes married women who unconditionally give permission when they put on that ring—deserves what she gets. Valenti’s piece is a brilliant and absolutely essential manifesto on what still has to change to get from “What about 'no' don’t you understand?” to the more advanced concept that women have a right to enjoy and control our own bodies. Here’s more from her must-read piece, which, if there is no justice in the world, better be anthologized in a thousand women’s studies textbooks and used as a handbook by women’s groups:

What feminists should do in response to bad policy and legislation has been clear cut—and successful. When the GOP tried to pass an anti-abortion measure last year that would redefine rape only as an assault that was “forcible,” feminists groups immediately took action. Thanks to national organizations, online activism and a clever Twitter campaign, the language was taken out of the bill. Feminists also won a campaign to push the FBI to change their outdated definition of rape, language dating from 1929 that said sexual assault was “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.”

But how we change the culture is a hurdle we haven’t properly tackled. Feminism’s major cultural successes around rape have occurred on a micro level—taking on individual television shows or products. And, for the most part, our cultural work has been reactionary—we’re constantly on the defensive, whether it’s trying to fight back against victim-blaming headlines or offensive rape jokes.

There’s more, and it’s all worth reading.

But Mourdock’s shocking comment was only partly about rape. It’s also about abortion—i.e. When is abortion legitimate? Maybe it’s time to go back a couple of decades and say: any time a woman wants it. I could just be cranky today, but I’m getting sick of defending the idea that woman are and can be independent actors. We are subjects, not holding vessels. No woman owes anyone else the use of her reproductive equipment—not the entryway, and not the inner chambers. For those first few months, that little blastocyst or embryo has no absolute claim on existenceˆunless the woman actively wants to carry it until it’s an actual person. When there’s a conflict between actual and potential life, I’m on the side of the independently breathing person every time.

Comments

Honestly, I think he means that God somehow intended the new life—not the rape—and that the rape, well, that was terrible, but get over it.

But the 'new life', such as it is ,is a direct consequence of the rape. That's pretty sloppy work from an omnipotent all powerful God.
Funny how the God of social conservatives is just like them. Irresponsible, violent, and with a real hatred of women.

You forgot to mention they also believe Jesus is a fair-haired, blue-eyed white man that just happened to be born in the Middle East.

If you want to talk about "pretty sloppy work," don't use "omnipotent all powerful" as though they don't mean the same thing.
It's adjectivally "irresponsible."
Just one more reason libs ought to stay away from the God stuff.
Try brushing up on your English before you tackle theology.

Alright, just my 2 cents.
I completely, wholeheartedly disagree with the (absurd) notion that a woman only gets pregnant if she's 'into it'. Same with the notion that a woman hasn't been raped if she's sexually active, or if it's done by her husband or significant other.

And I think that abortion should be an option available at hospitals for women who have been raped or victims of incest (still rape, no?), but more than that, the morning after pill should be more readily available so that women aren't having to have a doctor performing any procedures through their vaginas when they've been so recently violated.
That said, I also think that our sex education programs are failing our students in one big area. Sex produces babies. Always has, always will. Yes, we can use contraceptives to prevent it (with 1 baby conceived per 100 users, even with perfect use), but if we know that teenagers (and many adults) use contraceptives incorrectly, why aren't we telling them that they should wait to have sex until their ready to accept all the responsibilities it can entail? We'd certainly have a lot fewer abortions (and less to debate) if we could agree that sex is more than just a good time.

Oh finally, another woman that agrees with the thinking - you can have an abortion. Period. Not have an abortion because you were raped, or because of incest. Just have an abortion. Women don't need to explain their reasons. I know I will take a lot of heat for this, but that's okay! Fact is, even when abortions were illegal, they were still going on. Why can't people understand this? Just because you take away a woman's right to abortion, it's not going to make abortions stop. It's beyond religious, personal, humanitarian beliefs.
Since we know abortion won't stop, why can't we guarantee any woman that wants an abortion is entitled to a safe, legal procedure? Come on. The number won't go down...but the death total will go up.
Time for everyone to open their eyes and actually research the HISTORY of abortion, not just the procedure. It's been going on for a long, long time.

A comment and a question.
Comment: Honestly, the question of whether God's will is involved in anything at all -- did God want the Union to win the Civil War? did God want the Civil Rights Act passed? did Got want Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated? -- is a pretty big one. It's so big it's actually ill-served by addressing it in this context. Mr. Mourdock believes he knows the answer, and for all I know, he may be right. If Ms. Graff has an answer she believes, I suspect it's the opposite of Mr. Mourdock's, but whatever it is, she may well be right. Personally, I don't know the answer and I doubt any human being does or ever will. In other words, there are things we know we don't know. Let's not pretend otherwise.
The question: The quote, "Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse.” is followed by the clarification, "In other words, only virgins can be raped—sweetly white-gloved, white-skinned virgins, in case we’re not clear."
I'm "not clear" at all.
Where did the "white-skinned" part come from?

If God is all good why would He accept evil. Forcing the woman to carrying a child to term is justifying evil and allowing the man to do as he wishes. That's almost the same as what is allowed in the villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan via tribal custom. It too has nothing to do with God nor the Koran. Just as the Bible does not justify rape--in either the New or Old Testaments.

"...that it is something that God intended to happen." - Senate candidate Richard Mourdock

Putting aside the subject the mansplainer is discussing for a moment, that he is professing knowledge of God's intent in the course of a political campaign, should disqualify him from office.

The whole idea of knowing the Creator's intent has gotten way out of hand. The public seems to eat it up, though. Look at Michelle Bachmann and her constituency.

The problem is not claiming to know what God wants. The problem is existence and spread of Christianity and the awful Bible. If the author of this article was so offended by these statements, then why doesn't she point out the source of these arguments is the Bible itself. Conservative politicians wouldn't espouse backwards beliefs if they didn't hold backwards beliefs-namely, Christianity.

Isn't Mourdock statements standard Catholic Church teachings? Isn't their teaching that pregnancy is a miracle from god? Seems all the shock is a farce and artificial. You may disagree, but Mourdock statements are consistent with the teachings.

FYI, the word "chaste" does NOT imply virginity, except on or before a woman's first wedding day. All it means is a woman only has sexual relations with men she is married to. So the Senator's remark that "Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse" was not an assertion that only virgins could be raped.

The concept of "spousal rape" is actually fairly new as it didn't exist in law in much of the USA until a few decades ago. Sure, denying the concept of spousal rape is horrid for 2008, but probably not for when the Senator was a child. Similarly, the open acceptance of sex outside of wedlock is again a development of the past few decades. 60 years ago such things would not be openly discussed in polite company. The problem with most of these politicians is that they've adopted a morality from the 19th century for use within the 21st century. What we need is a good time machine to send them back to live where their moral beliefs are the norm.

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